1988 Volkswagen Polo C 1.0 from UK and Ireland


Mint first car... great if your saving up for a golf :D


Replaced fan belt at 47,000 miles.

Cuts out at junctions etc on cold days.

Bodywork in bad condition, resprayed front panels and roof of the car.

Handbrake sometimes stiff and sticks.

General Comments:

The car doesn't really have much acceleration, but I don't really expect this with it only being a 1.0l. Once up to speed it is a nippy little runner and will easily do 85 to 90mph on the motorway.

Trying to get away from junctions quickly is a pain and you really have to throttle it...

I have put a new sound system and CD head unit in... extra speakers in the parcel shelf and driver and passenger doors... well worth the effort...

Only real complaint I have is the brakes... they only being to grip when the pedal is almost full pressed... when driving newer cars pressing the pedal in the same manner would probably produce and emergency stop...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st September, 2005

2nd Sep 2005, 02:24

Have you tried replacing the brake fluid, and/ or checked the level? As brake fluid is hygroscopic it absorbs moisture through microscopic holes in the brake lines etc over time. This can give a soft pedal as the brake fluid effectively boils reducing brake efficiency. Also try bleeding the brake system of any air, or have the vaccuum checked on the brake system. A simple way to do this is to pump the pedal several times with the engine off. With you foot on the pedal start the engine. If the pedal drops slightly it is fine.

2nd Sep 2005, 06:19

The recommended actions above are worth doing, but all Polo's of this era are notorious for their poor brakes.

1988 Volkswagen Polo C 1.05 l from UK and Ireland


A good, solid and reliable small car


Alternator failure at 115000 miles.

Front windscreen wiper motor fault at 105000 miles. The headlights went dim when the wipers reached the bottom of the windscreen, but only on the continuous low speed setting.

Front windscreen wipers now work continuously on intermittent mode.

Rear wiper and rear heated window wires broke where they leave the boot. All easily rewired.

Engine tends to cut out on cold and/or damp mornings at junctions and traffic lights before it reaches running temperature. It's fine however if you live out of town and don't have to keep stopping and starting as soon as you leave home. It always starts fine.

Suffers a little from high emissions at MOTs.

General Comments:

The car is plenty fast enough around town, but lacks a little performance on main roads. Acceleration is not exactly swift, but once up to speed it will hold it nicely. Nevertheless, you do have to time any uphill overtaking manoeuvres well on the motorway if you don't want to get stuck behind the lorries.

Everyone mentions the brakes... Given that this is my first car, I can't really compare the brakes to any other car (Well, I did briefly drive a new Fiesta and pushed the brakes as hard as I do on the Polo and I almost smashed my head against the windscreen). You do have to push quite hard, but they stop you OK once you get used to them.

The rear seats are quite cramped, but you get a decent boot space. The back of the seat is quite low, which gives good rear visibility.

The front seats are quite comfortable with very little wear.

On a few occasions, it has refused to go into reverse. To correct this problem, start the engine with reverse selected.

The side repeater bulbs are difficult to replace (or am I doing it wrong?).

The body of the car is so far fairly rustproof, only the front of the bonnet is starting to deteriorate. The paint still shines after a good wash.

The car is very basic and easy to work on. No computer or anything complicated to go wrong.

The handling is predictable, it always feels safe, and new tyres make the steering quite light.

The clutch is quite stiff; this is not the car for you if you have a weak left leg.

Fuel consumption averages about 35 miles per gallon of unleaded.

All in all, with no costly servicing, it's a cheap and reliable runner. The engine is refined and the car offers a good ride quality. A good first car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th April, 2004

7th Dec 2005, 17:20

An update: head gasket failure in the Alps in March 2005. I was studying in Grenoble last year, in the foothills of the Alps in France. It had to tolerate a lot of hard work going up steep hills; it's lack of a 5-speed gearbox made the engine work even harder (would often not hold 3rd gear, so screamed away in 2nd). Would have cost 1500€ to fix, so I had to wave bye-bye. I would still say it was a reliable car; had it still been in its homeland of Kent, I'm sure it would still be going today, and even when the head gasket failed the car still ran fine out of town. But for how long...